If you’ve been around in the workplace as long as I have, which is a little over a quarter of a century, I am sure you have a healthy collection of workplace stories and experiences! When I started working with Clearly Blue Digital, CB as it is fondly called, about 11 months ago, I brought my collection along and its shaped and influenced interactions with my colleagues at CB. So, when asked to write about “An Inclusive Workplace”, I thought, “How about a CB-flavoured special, infused with my experiences?
Three aspects have resonated, time and again, that are to me the basics of an inclusive workplace. Employees should:
- Have a voice – When I started working over two decades ago, meetings would have senior experienced folk dominating the proceedings and fresh graduates like me and others, hardly ever heard our own voices. Decisions were taken from above and communication was by and large uni-directional. We only listened and followed. Today, making employees feel that they have a say in decisions works in the best interest of both employee and employer. Giving a space where employees can actively participate in arriving at solutions, critiquing work and asking questions gives them a strong sense of involvement and purpose. Knowing they have a voice helps employees become more confident. Having informal talks and creating small focus groups around specific topics are ways to ensure everyone gets a chance to voice their opinions. Being aware of everyone’s presence and mindful of giving all a space to share their thoughts works wonders for a workplace.
- Be accepted and valued for who they are – I would often get intimidated by colleagues that had PhDs and other higher degrees from world-class universities. I noticed that other colleagues treated them with a reverence that was different from how many of us, including myself, were treated. I also saw that people with less experience were viewed differently than experienced workers. These comparisons and differentiation created friction and barriers between colleagues at work. I learned over time that each individual brings their own unique self to work and we need to learn to see it, accept it and find how best to work with it. At the workplace, it is a common purpose that binds people. Yet, a team is a combination of unique individuals who need to deliver. Accepting uniqueness and appreciating the value of what each one brings to the table, and most importantly the manner in which they bring it, helps people and businesses achieve their goals. I know it helped me discover my strengths and helped me find how best I could add value in any team I worked with.
- Be assured of a collaborative environment – If the first two aspects are nurtured, then, I believe, collaboration happens automatically. People naturally come together to deliver the best when they know “they matter”. Having a voice and being accepted for who you are create a strong sense of connection between people. They know how to utilize and complement their strengths to deliver the best for the business. We know today, that the power of diverse thought, multiple perspectives and inclusive contribution to solutioning drives innovation and the desire to “give my best” at the workplace. Collaborative environments create a win-win situation for people and the business. I have felt the presence and practice of all three aspects at CB. It’s not only the more experienced folk who have made it part of their daily way of working, but all people at CB I believe have contributed to in some way around these three to create an inclusive workplace. I invite our readers to share what they believe are hallmarks of an Inclusive workplace.
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